The theory of Culturalist Therapy begins with a consideration of  the origins of the human being — with a study of evolution and cultural anthropology. Anthropologist Hallowell noted that what   anthropologists call “culture” is not instinctual but learned. It includes the transmission of  learned behavior through the symbolic means of  language. A system of  social interaction was necessary for human  evolution. This development could not have taken place  without the  evolution of the human brain; with advancing cortical  development  came the ability to use words as symbols for percepts and concepts that are passed on from generation to generation. This ever accelerating ability to transmit knowledge produced a psychosocial evolution that was thousands of times faster than anything  that could  have   occurred through ordinary biological  evolution.

This would indicate that social existence is not only created by man but also continually creates and develops man.This concept is the key to Culturalist Therapy. What is required in therapy is to change the social existence of patients so that they will experience more productive and creative lives. Through new life experiences made possible by therapy,  they can be, as it were, “newly created.” The friend,the spouse, the family, the community and the society form a continuum that must be considered for possible change. Thus, the culturalist therapist,  although working with individuals, will emphasize family therapy,  group therapy, and community mental  health programs. The degree to which therapy can help an individual is limited by the extent to which he can be helped to find a healthy social field for adequate functioning. The health of the social field, in turn,  depends on the extent to which  healthy individuals are acting to bring about needed changes. The relationship between social environment and the individual is truly reciprocal.

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